29apr04: here is my brilliant idea
A lot going on behind the scenes here. Bike riding. Book reading. Job having. Class teaching. Soup. Talking too damned much about the Pledge of Allegiance. In between it all I twiddle with my mail filtering in an effort to stem the tide of spam and junk and nur. My last good idea was filtering by X-mailer which has the unfortunate side effect of false positives -- mail from real people winds up in my spambox where it must be fished out, due to unknown mailers. This is my latest good idea: make my reply-to address an otherwise unused email address at jessamyndotcom [where I own all the addresses and they all bounce to me]. Whitelist that address. All replies to email from me go straight to my inbox, no matter what mailer anyone uses. All that other fake email using "Re:" goes to the spambox. Of course, there are always people [mea culpa] who sometimes reply to email weeks or even months later. Then again, if they do this, they're probably not expecting a speedy reply.

I hope I get to see some cicadas when I am down in DC. The whole plague of locusts thing really appeals to me, especially if I get to leave.

I am also still reading How Things Don't Work. The book is recent enough that it harkens back to some of the things that I harken back to, like tube-testing machines, and yet old enough that there were home television repairmen.
"We remember when early TV sets misbehaved, taking out the tubes and carrying them to the nearest drugstore where a TV-tube-testing machine stood in solid majesty. After subjecting all the tubes to plug-in, plug-out diagnosis accomplished by the turning of dozens of little knobs, it was a real pleasure to find the one that was bad, buy a replacement, take it home, plug it in, and contentedly settle back to watch the Sunday Edition of "Omnibus"

Nowadays when your solid-state, instant-on color TV goes on the blink, you phone the TV repairman for an appointment. After you have missed both the summer and winter olympics, a white frocked, faintly surgical-looking expert finally arrives for his diagnistic house call. Some days later the correct circuit board will be replaced and, to the accompaniment of a bill for $119.82, the set is operable again."
28apr04: mania
[just one more haircut picture?] The "seven days on and four days off" cycle isn't that good for me. On the one hand, I get an incredible amount done, see people, move around, and generally feel positive, alive and energized. On the other hand, the downside is that the R&R I require to get over this takes longer each time. It's sort of like waking up one day after drinking your normal amount, and feeling unusually like hell and thinking "Hmm, I may have to drink like an older person now, I don't bounce back like I used to." The past four-day weekend I mostly spent reading books, messing with websites, listening to new music, making and eating food, and trying to interact somewhat with the nice weather we've been having. But I was tired, bone tired. Hard to know how much of that was just relaxation at not being busy, how much was getting over this lingering cold, and how much was the inevitable pendulum swing away from the binge and mania of the last week. I like to think it's all variables I can control. Sometimes I worry that it's not.

In brighter news, a trip to the carriage shed out back netted a bicycle for me, an adorable maroon three-speed that didn't even need its tires pumped. Once we get Greg a helmet, we'll take to the streets! I have had an irrational fear of riding in traffic since trying to deal with Seattle buses and bad bike lanes years ago, I think it's time to try again.
24apr04: spunky
[yes I organized my one bookshelf by color, neat huh?] I know I'm a bit obsessive on this topic, but since I've been growing my hair out [starting sometime in 1988 or something] I've never had short hair just to have short hair. It's always been en route to being long hair, or recently come from being long hair on its way to being long again. I've never had a short hairstyle, such is as it is. I like it. In trying to track down all the haircut pictures from my last short haircut, I realized I had a treasure trove of pictures in directories that were on a server I had just about forgotten about. So I got to spend my morning doing what I nerdily love: moving, organizing, and cleaning data. It's hard to explain why, but the sense that it's a giant project that will never fully be finished somehow makes passing the time working on it more fun. I added the new-old photos to the photo list that is here.

National Library Week is blessedly over today -- yes that was me, the dork at the party telling the dreadlocked glassblowers that they should go get a library card -- and my Mom is coming for a visit next weekend, during Green-Up Day, the Bethel Sidewalk Sale, and our landlady's in-house fundraiser for a lady running for Lieutenant Governor here in Vermont. Not a bad weekend to not be schlepping to Philadelphia for a one day class.
20apr04: weightless
Even though I know that all the hair I had cut off [thanks again Kate!] doesn't weight much -- I know that because I came back from Boston with a big bag of hair -- my head feels all light and bobbly. I can put on shirts without spending an extra few seconds tugging my hair out. I can turn over in bed without smothering myself, or Greg. I can get up in the morning and walk downstairs with nothing tying my hair back and not hear cries of "It's the creature from the black lagooooon!" The folks at work didn't even notice, which says something, but I'm not sure exactly what.

I'm wrapping up a breakneck week here. I went to Boston/Hadley/Amherst for the weekend and gave two talks [or one talk twice] at Simmons East and Simmons West to a bunch of enthusiastic library students. Stopped in at the BloggerCon librarian session. Said hello to wonderful friends in Western MA, fought off a cold [or more likely allergies] and came back to Vermont. Upon returning I went and delivered books to our local senior center and then tabled in front of Wal-Mart to sign people up for library cards since this is National Library Week. Then today I gave a talk about accessible web design to some Vermont librarians, met a lot of the local bookmobilers and have one more busy day -- teaching the online catalog to alternative high schoolers and tabling at the Mall -- before I collapse into a snorfly sleepy librarian pile and read books for four days. This is how I know it's Spring.
16apr04: I'm just a girl with a new haircut, and that's a pretty nice haircut
When your sister the fashion plate both cuts your hair and says "Wow, that looks really great" [even skipping the "...on you" part] you know you got a good haircut. It was about damned time.

[before]  [after]
11apr04: rock on dead lawn
I made a mix CD today. Send me a mix CD of your own plus your address, or a padded CD-sized stamped self-addressed envelope [.60 US] and I'll send you a copy of this one. Address is on this page, we're still in Bethel. Offer good while supplies last. This post won't make it to the RSS feed -- which I can do, since I write it by hand! -- thanks for continuing to read this page the old fashioned way.
10apr04: mudbegone
[yes yes this is technically not a lilac but I forgot my camera when I was in Topsham] First, anyone who emails me and says anything about the joys of home ownership in reply to this post will be added to my killfile/spammer list/shitlist whichever sounds more annoying. The good news is I'm healthy. The other good news is that the weather is great. The third bit of good news is that I've been able to do what I've always wanted to do when the weather gets good which is to go outside and enjoy some of it. Bethel has a little town park which has swings and a little climber thing that has been fun for me and Greg to muck about with. There's also a soccer field which, since we have just seen Bend it Like Beckham, we think we might be able to do something with.

So, in the spirit of not staying inside we went to Topsham to drop off one of the many family cars we have been secreting around town and to say hi to the place. This is always a mixed bag during this part of the year because while it's sunny and placid here, there could be blizzards up there even though it's only an hour North. So we went and I had the same reaction that I always have when I come to Topsham after not being there in a while "Oh my god, this place is a freaking shack!" Not that the caretaker hasn't been doing wonderful things with it. It has always been a shack, I just only notice it in stark contrast when I live in non-shacks for any length of time. This time I noticed the 4x4s that hold the roof up appear to be twisting more than I remember. The deck sunk a bit in every place but one, driving a support up through some yielding decking. The sheetrock never looks good but at first glance it always looks its worst. The backyard is all dog shit and ash from the woodstove and mud and dead grass and rocks and parts of the barn roof that flew off years ago. The dead grass lies down to reveal the old couches that have been hiding in the usually lush undergrowth in the side yard. The house creaks in the wind in ways that don't say "old house settling" exactly.

However, and this is a big however, there are buds on the lilac bush. The rose bush seems to have survived the Winter. There is a smell of humus and dirt and leaves and rain and nothing else. It doesn't smell like diesel, and it doesn't smell like salt, and it doesn't smell like garbage and it doesn't even smell like dog shit, even though maybe it should. I can stand on the tilted back deck and see nothing but backyard and a power line and some trees. It's my crazy half-sunk pirate ship and 40 acre ocean and as much as I love Bethel, and Rutland, and South Royalton, this decrepit wonderland is mine mine mine.
06apr04: crudbegone
Of course, once I am at my wit's end being tired with a cold, you can be sure that it's basically over. I have that sort of luck. I ate a full head of garlic, put myself to sleep with some knock-off theraflu substitute and ate Vitamin C like it was on sale at the dented can store. Not exactly a controlled experiment but I can now breathe through my nose and want to remain among the living instead of praying for a speedy death so my misery to end. Good.

Feeling better always drives me to get even more books out of the library, so I've been picking through an interesting little number called How Things Don't Work covering a subject which has always been a bit of a fascination for me. It's a book for design wonks and it discusses how much of the stuff we have to interact with in our daily lives is terribly designed, made for form not function, and not even much form at that. It was written in the Seventies when we all seemed to think that Americans might somehow see the wisdom in sharing their lawnmowers and requesting products that fit their needs instead of what was on the shelf at Home Depot. I am on the bathroom chapter. This is his latest screed.
Showers are often part of the bathtub. In recent installations the upper part of the tub may be encumbered by a series of glass panels and glass sliding doors to close off the entire unit when taking a shower. The fact that such a superstructure makes the bathroom even smaller than it is already is secondary to the real problem in the system. These tub enclosures are not only hard to install, hard to clean, and extraordinarily expensive, they also limit access to the tub, permitting only half an opening at any given time. The interior space, usually ignored when taking a shower, becomes a truly awesome spectacle while taking a tub bath. One has a great sense of being enshrined.

Since steel parts rust, manufacturers have recently switched to aluminum frames for these enclosures. Helpfully the screws are still steel so that now only the screws rust. But unfortunately aluminum oxidizes, so some of the aluminum oxide dust settles in the tracks making them almost impossible to lubricate.

Most important, however, is this whole idiot greenhouse affair is also extremely dangerous. The shower door sliding out of the track and smashing your toes while the door itself shatters against your shoulder leaving you standing in a bathtub full of splinters may not happen frequently, but people do slip in bathtubs. They slip quite often. Hence it is unforgivable to provide a large sheet of glass into which wet, naked people are liable to crash.... Recently another type of shower-enclosure door has emerged which slides up instead of sideways, thus attractively combining the various hazards cited above with the concept of a do-it-yourself guillotine...
04apr04: crud redux
Oh four oh four oh four. Neat. Greg's birthday is in one month.

I try not to use this space to either complain about my life or nag myself. However, today I will do both. First, I have been trying to avoid talking about the crud that seems to have settled in my lungs because I am hoping it will go away. It hasn't. I have to now face the fact that I, who am rarely sick, have been sickish for a week now, mostly with coughing phlegmy runny nose-and-eyes ick. Not sick enough to not go to work, just sick enough to get to work and think "Man, I feel awful" and try to slog it out one more day. No fever, no chills, no reasonable remedy. I've been taking decongestants at night just so I can maybe breathe through my nose and have discovered their unfortunate side effect: my dreams have become almost unbearably dull. Usually dreaming while sick is interesting. Not always fun-interesting, but fun to look at. My feverish dreams are troublesome problem solving episodes where the answer is just around the corner [this is a sign of high temporal lobe activity, who knows what that means?] and where the laws of physics don't quite apply. Normally my dreams are peaceful and bucolic and involve a lot of people and a lot of moving around, often while surrounded by the lush green outdoors. My recent dreams have been about taking inventory at a grocery store, or doing completely prosaic real estate transactions. They suck and I wake up bored. I think it's a pretty common thing when you're sick for a while to start worrying that maybe you're never going to get better. I'm worried that my dreams will be dull forever.

The nagging part of the whole deal is that I have five [5] talks that I am in the midst of preparing for. Two are informal, one is semi-formal, one is an all day class, and one is a fairly serious talk. They are, in order:

  • How to be a Librarian Rockstar [aka tips for getting jobs, making yourself known, making a difference in the weird world of librarianship] - Simmons College, Boston [link]
  • Keeping up with the Library World [current awareness, blogs, rss, tools, etc] - Simmons College, Hadley
  • How to Design an Accessible Useful Website at VT DoL's "Taking the Library on the Road" workshop - Killington VT [pdf link yes, that Killington]
  • Blogs and Blogging in Libraries, all day class - Philadephia PA [link]
  • "Affronts to Library Liberty: Legal, Ethical, and Practical Responses" - MLA, Washington DC [link]
I'm in the note-assembling phase mostly. I remember when my brain was abuzz with all sorts of hooks and ideas and approaches to these topics. I thought of good jokes, amusing anecdotes, evocative imagery and deft segues. Now as I sit in front of the laptop and reach for my water and cough drops and tissues, all I can think about is how much better I'll be able to work on all of this when [or if] I get better.
03apr04: you know what tonight is, right?
[spring!]    [spring!!]    [spring forward!!!]

01apr04: mud & the crud
[the phrase 'bun me' has a long story associated with it that has nothing to do with this picture] The neighbors came by the other day to tell us we can't park in the driveway anymore until it stops raining. I never knew this before, but mud season isn't about melting snow as much as it's about melting snow and deepfrozen ground, making a slishy layer of hyperwet mud that has no place to go and doesn't dry out gracefully. So, we park down the street and walk in the rain and continue to marvel at the range of motion you have when you aren't clenched up freezing to death.

I've said all I have to say about April Fool's Day previously here. However what I have to add is this: I have found a solution, at least in the workplace. My Boss's birthday was today, really today. Because April Fool's isn't really about humor and fun, people won't play these so-called "jokes" on you if it's your birthday. They're nice to you on your birthday [now that we have outgrown that horrible "spanking" age]. The next time I get another job, I will say that my birthday is April 1st, and be off the hook forever.
Jessamyn is in...
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16apr... Simmons E
17apr... Simmons W
20apr... VT DoL talk
03may... blog class
04may... Greg b'day!
23may... MLA
24jun... ALA
27jun... wedding
02oct... wedding

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